Spring Semester Update

Dear Scripps College Community Members,

The public health environment in Los Angeles County and the nation has deteriorated significantly over the past month, with steady increases in positive cases and hospitalizations exceeding previous records. Holiday-related travel and gatherings are expected to contribute to additional spikes in the coming weeks, prompting LA County officials to reinstate modified stay-at-home orders for the rest of the month. Consistent with their warnings, we urge everyone in the Scripps community to stay safe by staying home and away from others as much as possible.

In response to these alarming conditions, the LA County Department of Public Health has indicated that there is little possibility institutions of higher education will be permitted to resume in-person operations in January. Officials have indicated that they will maintain current orders requiring colleges and universities to operate only remotely until January at the earliest and will only reevaluate this directive when cases drop to less than 10 per 100,000 people in the County for two consecutive weeks. As public health conditions improve, the County is likely to take a phased approach to reopening, allowing minor adjustments initially and gradually allowing increased activities on campuses over time.

Based on the recent announcements about LA County’s timeline and metrics for reevaluating guidance for higher education, the Scripps Board of Trustees and senior team have concluded that it will not be possible for students to return to campus in January. Consequently, spring semester will begin in a remote format. We continue to work toward the goal of allowing students to return to campus for the second half of the semester as conditions improve, as we now envision welcoming students back in mid-March, subject to County approval.

Given this shift in the first possible date for students to physically return, we, along with the other undergraduate Claremont Colleges, have decided to reinstate a contiguous spring break, now that doing so would not result in dangerous travel to and from campus. The spring break will occur March 8 through March 12, and if we are able to have students return at that time, move-in days will likely span March 11-14.

We are grateful for the amount of effort and concern the LA County Department of Public Health has exercised to keep the region as safe as possible during these difficult times.  Simultaneously, we are disappointed by the public health situation and the resulting limitations on the College’s ability to return to campus in January. The College is eager to bring students back to campus and has engaged in a rigorous and deliberate planning process. We are confident that we could reinstate some in-person components of the Scripps College experience, just as has happened elsewhere in the country. For these reasons, we, along with the other Claremont Colleges, continue to work with LA County officials seeking routes for safe in-person operation.

If we are able to resume academic and residential life on campus in March, we expect that everyone in the community understands that the campus will operate with a number of restrictions in place, which will be necessary both in order to acquire County approval and in order to limit the impact of the ongoing pandemic. I encourage you to visit the Scripps Strong website for details of our comprehensive five-point plan for reopening campus as soon as permitted by state and County health officials.

We understand that LA County and the nation are entering what is likely to be the most challenging period of the pandemic. We, like others, are bracing for difficult times and our hearts are with the many families who have lost loved ones and whose lives have been disrupted by the virus. Our goal is to be part of the ongoing efforts to reduce associated risks. I can assure you that we are doing everything within our power to create a campus environment that is as safe as possible in these conditions and that allows our students to continue their education consistent with our institutional mission.


Lara Tiedens